16— ♦7373-2 aPO
AN HISTORICAL SKETCH
Merrick, Long Island,
Written for the Merrick Library
CHAS. N. KENT.
The Merrick library,
MERRICK, N. Y.
p. F. McBreen & Sons,
218 William Street,
EDWARD C. CAMMANN,
WHOSE UNTIRING ENERGY AND ZEAL
THE MERRICK LIBRARY
PRESENT COMPLETE FORM,
THUS INSURING ITS
FUTURE SUCCESS AND GROWTH,
THIS VOLUME IS
Here in the Country s heart
Where the grass is green,
Life is the same sweet life
As it e'er hath been.
Trust in a God still lives
And the hell at morn
Floats with a thought of God
O'er the rising corn.
God comes down in the rain
And the crop grows tall ;
This is the country faith.
And the best of all.
—Norman R. Gale.
"Out on Long Island," is a phrase which to dwellers in
Manhattan and Brooklyn is synonymous with pure air, temperate
climate and fresh ocean breezes. Long Island is the natural
suburb of these two great cities, and offers so many advantages
to summer residents and for permanent homes, that its capacity
in some parts has already been reached, while new villages or
settlements are constantly springing up. The writer selected
his summer home upon the South Side, in Merrick, nearly ten
years ago. His subsequent experience there has proved he
then made no mistake. A love for the place, with an ever
growing desire to do it justice is his excuse for all that follows.
During the progress of the work he has consulted and now
quotes from: Histories of Long Island, by Nathaniel S. Prime,
Benjamin F. Thompson, and Silas Wood; Colonial History of
New York, American Archives and Documentary History of
New York (Lenox Library); History of New York, by Thomas
Jones ; Legends of Fire Island Beach, Edward Richardson ;
Colonial Documents (Union League Club); McMaster's History
of the People; Disosway's Early Churches, and Daniel Neal's
History of New England.
In giving copies from old documents the original spelling
has been preserved.
The author is indebted for valuable information to Mrs.
Elijah Smith, Mr. Gilbert Smith, Mr. George T. Hewlett, Mr.
William E. Hewlett, Mr. Frank Miller and Mr. Chauncey
Smith to all of whom he acknowledges his obligations with
CHAS. N. KENT.
Merrick, September, 1900.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Chapter I. Introductory ii
II. Early Settlement and Name 14
III. Land Titles 16
IV, The Indians on Long Island 21
V. The Merrick Indians 23
VI. Early Settlers 26
VII. Land Divisions 33
VIII. The Will of Jonathan Smith 35
IX. Highways 38
X. Industries 44
XI. Schools 47
XII. Churches 49
XIII. The Railroad 56
XIV. The Merrick Water Co 58
XV. The Merrick Library 61
XVI. Camp Meeting Grounds 64
XVII. Retrospective 66
XVIII. In Conclusion ... 69
AN HISTORICAL SKETCH
MERRICK, LONG ISLAND.
Land embraced within the boundaries of "Heemp-
stede" appeared, to English colonists, as early as 1640,
most favorable for agricultural increment, healthful sur-
roundings and permanent homes, of any upon Long Isl-
and's shores. Here an attempt at colonization was ac-
cordingly made in the spring of that year.
Winthrop writes: "Divers inhabitants of Linne agreed
with Lord Sterling's agent, one Mr. Farret, for a parcel
of the isle near west end, and agreed with the Indians
for their right." It is elsewhere recorded that they
"bought of Farret the privilege of buying of the Indians,
a tract eight miles square, in consideration of a payment
to him of four bushels of maize." Unfortunately for
this first colony, the title of Lord Sterling to the whole of
Long Island, under an original grant from James I, was
12 MERRICK, LONG ISLAND.
not recognized by the Dutch governor, Kieft, who, in
1639 purchased of the Manhassetts "all land east of the
Rockaways to Fire Island, and north to Martin Gerret-
sen's Bay" — now Great Neck. The Dutch, moreover,
being in possession, with military power to enforce their
decrees, while Sterling had naught but his paper grant
from the crown, soon made it too hot for the "Linne Set-
tlers," and they were glad enough to escape with their
lives, losing the four bushels of maize, which Farret de-
clined to restore.
In Neal's "History of New England" (1720) there is
given the following account of this proposed settlement:
"The Inhabitants of Lyn being -Straitened for Room
went over into Long Island, and having agreed with the
Lord Starling's agent, and with the Indian Proprietors,
they began a Settlement at the West End of it; but the
Dutch giving them a great deal of disturbance, they
deserted their Plantation in those Parts and settled to the
number of an Hundred Families at the East End of the
Island, where they built the Town of Southampton."
Reports concerning the land first spied out by the
Linne people, the fertility of the great plains, the large
tracts of woodlands free from underbrush and suitable for
pasturage, and its delightful climate with health-giving
properties, appear as we shall hereafter see in a second
and successful attempt at colonization three years later.
The Indian names for Long Island were Matowacks
and Manatey. Governor Nicolls, who succeeded
"Dutch Peter," called it Yorkshire, divided into three
ridings. By an act of the Colonial Assembly, passed
April loth, 1692, it was thereafter to be known as Island
of Nassau; but this designation was repugnant to the
colonists; although the act has never been repealed it
soon became obsolete, and after the lapse of years is
rarely met with, even in legal documents.
Hempstead was so called by the emigrants who settled
there, from a town in England known as Hemel Hemp-
stead; and was written Heetnstede by the Dutch, from sev-
eral villages of like name in Holland.
Merrick is in the southern part of Hempstead, on the
South Bay, east of Freeport and west of Bellmore,
EARLY SETTLEMENT AND NAME.
The township of Hempstead was the first settled in
Queens County. The colonists are said to have come
principally from Yorkshire in England during the reign
of King Charles I, "when both civil and rehgious liberty
were prostrated by the illegal and tyrannical extension of
the royal prerogative and by the intolerance of the estab-
lished church." They tarried for a time in Wethers-
field, Massachusetts, but soon passed on to Stamford,
Connecticut, and from thence sixty-six families crossed
the Sound to Hempstead, in 1643. Among them John
Carman and John Smith decided to press on further
south. Carman got as far as what is now the foot of
Greenwich Street in Hempstead Village, where he
pitched his camp and staked out his future home; but
Smith, who appears to have been of a somewhat more
venturesome spirit, continued on his way until he arrived
at the beautiful meadow lands in Merrick, and saw be-
fore him the Great South Bay. The Eldorado had been
reached. Confident that there could be found no better
place, a confidence, which, it may be safely said after a
lapse of two hundred and fifty years, was not misplaced,
EARLY SETTLEMENT AND NAME. I5
he threw himself upon the ground among the friendly
Indians surrounding him, and declared his intention of
here making his home. He asked "To what tribe do
you belong?" "Merrick," was the answer. "Then,"
said Smith, "we will name the place Merrick, and so it
shall ever be."
Thompson, who is regarded as the best authority in
matters appertaining to Long Island, writes the name
Merric, Meroke and Mcrikoke. Flint prefers Merikoke
and Meroke, while the older settlers adhere to Merock,
Meroqiic and Merikoke. Whatever may have been the
correct spelling, and doubtless there is authority for
each, the Merrick of to-day derives a clear title to the
name from its Indian inhabitants. The only other like
geographical divisions are Merrick County, Nebraska—
so called after Elvira Merrick, wife of Henry W. De Puy,
speaker of the House, when the county in question was
organized. It is not unlikely that these people were
sometime dwellers upon our shores, and have thus en-
deavored to perpetuate a recollection of their ancestral
homes; and there is also a Merrick in Massachusetts, on
the Connecticut River opposite Springfield.
In old deeds and wills, one comes across "Little Mer-
rick" and "Greater Merrick," a distinction now quite
unknown. Greater Merrick included all land west of
what is now Merrick Avenue to Mud Creek; and Little
Merrick all land between Mud Creek and Merrick
Smarting from oppressions of the English government
to which they had for so long a time been subjected, our
colonists brought with them a keen sense of right and
wrong, and a determination to deal justly with all men.
Hence, we find them early endeavoring to obtain by
purchase from the Indians in possession, both an honor-
able, and, so far as possible, a legal title to that part of the
Island since known as Hempstead; this secured, they
next bargained for and were granted by the Dutch gov-
ernor, Kieft, a patent confirming the title and freeing
them from Dutch control. Lord Sterling's pretensions,
under letters from the crown, appear to have been wholly
ignored, owing, doubtless, to the sad fate of those who
attempted a settlement in 1640, and were finally expelled
by the Dutch, after losing their "four bushels of maize,"
which was paid to Sterling's agent.
Rev. Robert Fordham and John Carman were selected
as agents to treat with the Merikoke and Marsapeague
Indians. An agreement was speedily made for the pur-
chase of land in question, confirmed by writings, duly
signed. Payments were to be made at intervals, and the
LAND TITLES. I 7
confirmation deed was to be executed and delivered,
when final payments, thus provided, had been made. All
this accomplished, the deed was issued and delivered in
the words and form following:
"July the 4th, 1657. Stilo novo.
"Know all men by these Presents, that We, the In-
dians of Marsapege, Mericock, and Rockaway, whose
Names be underwritten, for ourselves, and all the rest of
the Indians that doe Claime any Right or Interest in
the Purchase that hempsteed bought in the year 1643.
And within the bounds and limitts of the Whole tract
of Land, Concluded upon with the governor of Man-
hatans as it is in this paper Specified, Doe, by these p'rs-
ents, Ratifie and Confirme to them and their heires for-
ever, freely, firmly, quiettly and Peaceably, for them and
their heires and success'rs for Ever to enjoye without
any Molestacon or trouble from us, or any that shall
pretend Any Clayme or title unto itt.
"The Montooke Sachem being present att this con-
"In Witness whereof Wee, whose names bee here un-
der written, have hereunto subscribed.
The Marke of Takaposha.
The Sachem of Marsapeague.
The Marke of Wantagh.
The Montake Sachem.
The Marke of Chegone.
1 8 merrick, long island.
The Marke of Romege.
The Marke of Wangwang.
The Marke of Rumasackromen.
The Marke of .
The Marke of Woronmcacking.
In the presence of us,
"Vera copia concordans cum originalis scripsit, per me,
John James, cler."
"Wee, the Indians above written, doe hereby acknowl-
edge to have received from the Magistrates and Inhabi-
tants of Hempsteed, all our pay in full satisfaction for
the tract of land sould unto them, according to the
above and within written agreement, and according to
the pattent and purchase. The Gen" bounds is as fol-
Voweth: Beginning att a place called Mattagarretts
Bay and soe running upon a direct line, north and south
and from north to south, from Sea to Sea, the boundes
running from Hempsteede Harbour due east to a pointe
of Treese adjoining the lands of Robert Williams, where
wee left marked trees, the same line running from Sea
to Sea. The other line beginning att a marked tree
Standing att east end of the greate plaine, from that tree
LAND TITLES. I9
and running a due south line and att the South Sea,
by a Marked tree, made in a Neck called Maskutchoung
and from thence upon the same line, to the South Sea.
-And we whose names are hereunto subscribed, do further
Ingage ourselves and our successors, to uphold and
maintain this our present act, and all our former agree-
ments to bee just and lawfull; that the aforesaid Inhabi-
tants of Hempsteed Shall Enjoye the Said Lands ac-
cording to the Equity-marked bounds with all privileges
thereunto Any way belonging or Appertaining, for them,
their heires and success" for Ever. And we doe binde
ourselves to save and defend them harmlesse from any
manner of Claime or pretence that shall bee made to
disturbe them in their right, or any p''te thereof, hereby
binding us and our success'"'' to cause them to Enjoye
the same Peaceably without Any Molestacon or Inter-
rupcon for them, their heires and successr' for Ever.
Whereunto we have subscribed, this eleventh day of
May, anno 1658. Stilo novo.
Che Know. Martom.
Sayasstock. Pees Komach.
"Subscribed by Wacombound, Montauk Sachem, after
the death of his father, this 14th February, 1660, being
a generall town meeting of Hempsteed.
"A true coppy, Compared with the Originall and both
of them being written by me. John James, Clerk."
20 MERRICK, LONG ISLAND.
The Montauks claimed a somewhat uncertain sov-
ereignty over all other Long Island clans, and, to avoid
any possible complications, our colonists insisted that
the deed in question should also bear the signature of
the great Montauk, as complete evidence of transfer; so
Wacombound comes to the next town meeting and
makes his acknowledgment. It will, of course, be un-
derstood that the signatures consisted of the grantors'
written identification, the Chiefs' marks being in indi-
vidual forms as selected by themselves.
In November, 1664, Kieft's royal patent was issued,
but contained a condition precedent that one hundred
families should be settled in the township within five
years. The patent was granted to Robert Fordham,
John Stricklan, John Lamoree, John Carman, John
Ogden, and Jonas Wood, but was understood to em-
brace the sixty-six families from Stamford, and the land
"of the Great Plains on Long Island from the East
River to the South Sea and from a certain Harbour,
commonly called and known as Hempstead Harbour,
and westward as far as Martin Gerretsen's Bay."
THE INDIANS ON LONG ISLAND.
At the time of the first settlements by Dutch and Eng-
Hsh, there were resident on Long Island thirteen tribes,
or, more correctly, clans, of Indians, in some degree de-
pendent upon each other, all acknowledging a certain
allegiance to the powerful Montauks. There is a gener-
ally expressed belief that these Indians descended in a
direct line from the Delawares, but as their language was
that of the Narragansetts, it is more probable they were
an offshoot of the Algonquin races in New England.
They were divided as follows :
Canarsee: Kings county and Jamaica.
Rockaway: Rockaway and a part of the adjoining
Merric or Meroke: From the middle of the island,
south to the bay, and from Rockaway to Marsapeague, or
to the west line of Oyster Bay.
Marsapeagiie: A part of the same eastern land as the
Merokes, and extending into Suffolk county.
Matinecock: From Flushing, through Queens county
to Fresh Pond in Suffolk county, on the north side.
Nesoquake or Nissaqiiogue: From Fresh Pond to
22 MERRICK, LONG ISLAND.
Seatalocot or Satauket: From Stony Brook to Wading
Corchang: From Wading River to Southold.
Manhassett or Manhanset: Shelter Island.
Secatogne or Secatang: From the Marsapeagues to
Patchogue: East to Southampton.
Shinecock or Shinecoc: From Canoe Place to Mon
Montauk: The Montauk peninsula.
As a rule these various clans were friendly to the
whites, gave little trouble, and were always ready for a
trade; but soon after colonization began, there was a
noticeable diminution in their number. In an old history
of New York, written by Dunton, now very rare but ex-
ceedingly interesting, it is recorded (1670): "There is
now but few Indians, and those few no ways hurtful. It
is to be admired how strangely they have decreased, by
the hand of God, since the English first settling in these
THE MERRICK INDIANS.
We have already seen that our pioneer settler, John
Smith, was cordially greeted, upon his arrival at the
meadows, by the assembled Indians, and he seems ever
thereafter to have maintained friendly relations with
them. Their camp was upon what was called "The
Neck," and their burying ground in the nearby field
which adjoins the property now owned by Mr. Hugh V.
Roddy, on the west. There is some authority for the state-
ment that the Merricks were a branch of the Rockaways,
and those writers who maintain this theory spell the name
Merock, indicating the latter syllable as derived from the
first one in Rockaway. But so far as can be learned the
Merricks were entirely independent of their western
neighbors, although for a long time they paid tribute to
the Marsapeagues on the east. Tradition has it that when
John Smith saw this tribute delivered he asked for an
explanation, and, on learning the full story, told the Mer-
ricks it was an imposition, and advised them not to sub-
mit to any such demand. His advice was followed j
further payments were refused, and the angry Marsa-
peagues sought revenge in the slaughter of Merrick pigs,
sheep and cattle. Again Smith came to the rescue. A
24 MERRICK, LONG ISLAND.
petition was sent to the colonial governor; he referred it
to the famous John Underhill, who, with a company of
infantry, appeared at Fort Neck, and so effectually de-
feated the Marsapeagues in a pitched battle that they
never after recovered from the blow. In an old court
record (1699) it is stated that "the marriage of John
Underhill, Jr., and Mary Prior is pronounced null, and
they are fined £5 apiece for breach and contempt of law,
and to pay iio more if they shall not be legally married
before the next court, which being neglected they are
fined iio each." The son appears to have been a worthy
descendant of the Indian fighter, John.
But the fate of the Merricks, like that of all other clans,
was sealed. They are represented as being of a remark-
ably cheerful disposition, so much so as to have gained
the sobriquet of "the merry Indians," by which name they
were often designated. The last of this race, Henry
January, married, in 1809, "Squaw Betty." One child,
Sarah, was born to them, and she in due time married a
Patchogue Indian with the somewhat doubtful Indian
name of Tom Strong. He came to Merrick, and together
they built a little house of logs in a clearing, less than
half a mile northeast of the present railroad station. Tom
and Sarah both died of smallpox within a few days of
each other, leaving three young children, Nautchie,
Jeanette, and Raphael. They were taken to the home
of Mr. George Hewlett, who lived in the house now
owned and occupied by Miss Kate V. Barnum on the
THE MERRICK INDIANS. 25
South road, and were educated and cared for by him until
both Nautchie, Jeanette, and Raphael married negroes
and disappeared from view. With them the Merrick
Indians became extinct.
The Smith families were early in evidence on Long
Island. Indeed, they were, from the outset, so numerous
that something more than the simple surname, even with
the Christian prefix, was deemed essential to properly
identify them. Hence it came about that the first settler
in Merrick, John Smith, was known as John Rock Smith
and John Smith Rock, he being thus designated because
of his ingenuity in building his house in Stamford around
a rock too large for removal, which was thus made to do
duty as part of the wall, and also as a back to the fire-
place. His descendants are still known as the Rock
Smiths, and at the present day include nearly all Smiths
living in Merrick. There was also a Jonathan Black
Smith, so identified, not from occupation, but from a
decidedly unbleached countenance. Elsewhere resided
the Block Smiths, whose progenitor placed before his
house a horse-block for the convenience of his wife. The
Weight Smiths possessed the only set of weights and
measures in their neighborhood. Incidentally it may be
stated that there were living in Patchogue not many years
ago five William Smiths. A book of "Smith Wills" re-
lates that each of the five was identified by a nickname
EARLY SETTLERS. 2^
known and utilized among their acquaintances. "Point
Bill" resided on a point projecting into the bay. "Pea-
cock Bill" owned a bird from which the prefix was de-
rived. "Wheelbarrow Bill" constructed an improved
barrow having three wheels. "Submarine Bill" invented
a contrivance for examining the bottoms of vessels.
"Eleven-Dollar Bill," clerk in a store, took from a cus-
tomer for a fifty-cent purchase one of the old-fashioned
two-dollar state bank bills, giving in exchange ten dollars
and fifty cents, with the subsequent statement that he
supposed the two Fs upon the bill meant that it was an
The Carman family early sent representatives to Mer-
rick from the settlement on Hempstead Plains. To John
Carman was born, January 9, 1645, the first white child in
the settlement. He was christened Caleb. The Car-
mans and Smiths intermarried, and appear to have held in
common land westward from the eastern line of what is
now the property of Mr. H. H. Cammann, on Merrick
avenue. There is also evidence that these two families
pre-empted the entire territory "from Merrick river, east
to Cove Spring Landing, Merrick Cove, and from the
bay north to Hempstead Plains."
John Rock Smith settled west of the present lakes on
either side of Merrick road — his house on the north and
barn on the south side. Jonathan Smith Black laid out
his farm east of Merrick path, which afterwards became
the Hempstead turnpike; and Jonathan Smith Rock set-
28 MERRICK, LONG ISLAND.
tied to the west, there being between them a wedge of
land, known as the Hewlett farm. It is reported that this
wedge was contributed equally by the two Smiths to
induce the Hewletts to settle thereon.
Richard Valentine had land, undescribed, in Merrick
as early as 1657. He was a town marshal and man of
One of the first houses was built by Jonathan Rock
Smith. It is still in existence, and stands back from the
present residence of Mrs. Elijah Smith. The house of
Mr. William E. Hewlett was erected at about the same
From carefully preserved records now in the possession
of Mr. George T. Hewlett and Mr. George M. Hewlett
it appears that the first of that family to reach America
was one of the judges who passed sentence of death upon
King Charles (1648). The name in the King's death
warrant is differently spelled, and it is supposed to have
been purposely changed afterwards to avoid pursuit and
detection. The first Hewlett settlement (about 1649)
was on Riker's Island, near Hell Gate; the house was
destroyed by Indians, although the family, being warned,
escaped, and we next hear of them in Hempstead whith-
er they probably migrated. There were then three broth-
ers, George, John, and Lewis, and one sister. George and
John both died unmarried, the former at Hempstead, the
latter at Cow Neck. Of the others there is no record.
The first George Hewlett to come to Merrick settled "be-
EARLY SETTLERS. 29
tween Whale Neck and New Bridge road," including
what is now known as Cedar Swamp. There is also
record of an early Hewlett settlement upon the farm of
Mr. George M. Hewlett, which has always remained in
the family. The original house has been incorporated in
the more modern residence occupied at the present time.
An old clothes press brought from England is still in its
garret, as well as portraits of Colonel Hewlett and his
wife. The people were largely tories in the early period
of our struggle for independence. Washington wrote to
the Committee of Safety (1776): "The inhabitants of
L. I. have discovered an apparent inclination to lend a
helping hand to subjugate their fellow citizens," and
Jonathan Sturges writes to Governor Trumbull : "Long
Island has the greatest proportion of tories of any part of
this colony." The women, too, assumed a royal attitude,
and went even greater lengths to signify their devotion to
the crown. We may be pardoned, perhaps, for copying
the following statement from an old record : "A young
woman in our town [Hempstead] formed an intimacy
with a Highlander in the British army. When the
British were about to evacuate the island she was miss-
ing. The distressed father expressed his apprehensions
to the commanding officer That his daughter had eloped,
and was now in the Company of her lover. Forthwith
the men were drawn up, and the father walked along the
ranks, wherein he discovered his daughter, in Highland
Uniform, and in the guise of a soldier, by the whiteness
50 MERRICK, LONG ISLAND,
of the skin where the garter is usually tied." The Hew-
letts were among the leaders of the Royalist party, and
at times were in imminent danger, but finally a declara-
tion of submission to the Continental Congress was
drawn up, and among its signers were John Carman,
John Smith Rock, William Smith Black, Benjamin Hew-
lett, Benjamin Hewlett 2d, Joseph Hewlett, George
Hewlett, and John Hewlett. The Hewlett coat of arms
represents two owls upon a shield, with the mottoes :
"To stake one's life for the truth," and "By courage, not
by craft." The name was sometimes spelt Hulit, and also
"Owlett," the latter probably derived from Yorkshire
dialect and the representative owls. In the last genera-
tion of our first George Hewlett's descendants there were
twelve brothers and sisters. Of these Mr. George T.
Hewlett and Mrs. Mary Willetts are now (1900) the sole
As an illustration of the deserved prosperity and enter-
prise which have ever characterized the Hewletts the fol-
lowing, copied from an old newspaper dated February
28, 1800, will serve as an example : "The curious are
invited to a sight of one of the most astonishing produc-
tions in nature, a large ox, raised by Mr. George Hewlett.
He is to be seen at Mrs. Delouf's, Flymarket. Admit-
tance, one shilling. To give an idea of this ox, it need
only be mentioned that he is nineteen hands high, seven-
teen and a half feet in length, and nine feet in girth, form-
ing a tremendous mass of animation. Not to view him
EARLY SETTLERS. 3I
as he now stands argues that want of curiosity which
tends to enlarge the mind." And again, in 1831, we
read: "George Hewlett, of Merrick, has a cornstalk on
which grew thirteen perfect ears."
During all these early years the Indians were friendly,
and gradually acquired some of the ways of the pale-faces,
among which was a not too moderate liking for corn
whisky and another well-known liquid, sometimes smug-
gled in from the Indies. They continued to occupy the
Neck, reserving, as was the custom in alienating lands,
"the rights to hunt, fish, and gather nuts." This condition
is found in most of the Indian deeds. The longevity of
early residents is a matter of frequent comment, and,
indeed, the record, so far as subsequent generations are
concerned, is still a remarkable one. Long life and Long
Island are intimately associated with each other. It was
recorded in the New York Gazette (1732) : "Last week
the wife of William Humphreys, of Hempstead, was
brought to bed of a daughter, which child's grandfather
hath a grandmother yet living, being of that age that she
can say : 'Grandson, send me your granddaughter that
I may have the pleasure to see of my issue one of the fifth
The constabulary was the militia, and that there was a
frequent demand for their services a single incident will
illustrate: "John Jackson's Store, west of the Mill-dam
at Merrick, was robbed by some Whale boats under Cap-
tain Dickie. The Militia went in pursuit. The western
32 MERRICK, LONG ISLAND.
division was under Joseph Raynor, and the eastern under
George Hewlett. Dickie was captured, and sent to New
York. Not long afterwards, George Hewlett, with two
friends, was gunning on the marsh, when a whale boat
rowed up, took his gun, silver sleeve buttons, and some
money, and consulted whether they should take their hats
Although title to the township was made sure from the
time of settlement in 1643, lands were held in common
until 1647, when the first division took place among the
original sixty-six owners. Other divisions rapidly fol-
lowed, and "Akers of Medowe given out to the Inhabit-
ants of Hempstead," says Flint, is a frequent entry in the
old town books. Town meetings fixed the day to begin
cutting salt grass, before which no one had the right to
use sickle or scythe, for the marshes were held, last of all,
in common. In 171 2 the commons contained about 6,000
acres. In 1723 officers were appointed "to divide the
individual land of Hempstead, and to lay to every man
according to his just right, and to doe the work according
to justice." But as late as 1792 we find a farm described
as "pleasant, salubrious, zvith the great privilege of Com-
monage in the plains and marshes, enabling the proprietor
to keep what stock he pleases."
Among the early transfers by deed is that of Richard
Elloson and wife to John Smith Rock, son of John Smith,
of land "on the north side of the Neck, called Rockaway,
adjacent to a place called hungry harbor." This was in
34 MERRICK, LONG ISLAND.
1676, and seems to indicate that our first Smith was still
A deed of a part of the undivided land transferred "by
William Vallentine to Joseph Smith, of Hempstead,
Queens County, on Nassau Island, in 1770," is in the
following words :
"In consideration of the Just and full sum of five
shillings well and trewly paid by Joseph Smith, son of
John Smith, wefer, the receipt whereof I do hereby ac-
knowledg myself to be therewith fully satisfyed, con-
tented, and paid, have by these presents, given, granted,
sold, and convayed unto him, the said Joseph Smith, son
of John Smith, his heirs and assigns forever, that is to
say, a ninepence patten wright is to be taken up in the
Undevided land in the township of Hempstead, which
said Pattent Wright Descended from William Valentine."
In one of the early recorded wills Silvanus Smith
leaves to his sons "the salt and fresh Meadows on the
South Neck called Great Merock and Little Merock."
The will of Jonathan Smith Rock appears worthy of
further record, as quoted from in the following chapter.
THE WILL OF JONATHAN SMITH,
Be it known unto all men by these presents, that I,
Jonathan Smith, of the Township of Hempstead [Mer-
rick], Queens County, on Nassau Island; yeoman on this
Thirtieth day of May, In the year of our Lord, one thou-
sand Seven Hundred and forty-six, being very week and
Infirm of Body, but through Marcy my understanding
at this time pritty well; and well knowing that my final
change Draweth nigh, and that this mortal Body must
give up this transitory Life; therefore I am willing to
settle my worldly estate in peace and Tranquility among
my famaly; but first of all I recommend my Soul to God
that gave it to me, in hopes through ye merits of Jesus
Christte to Inherit Salvation ; and my Body I bequeath
unto the earth, to be buried with a Christian Like Burial
at ye De Scretion of my Executores hereafter named and
appoynted. And as touching such worldly estate Where-
with it hath pleased almighty God to Bless and Bestow
upon me, I will, devise and dispose of in ye following
manner: First of all, my will is that all those just debts
which I doe owe to any manner of persons shall be fully
Satisfied, Contented and paid in Such manner as is here-
after mentioned and expressed. Item, I will, order and
:; J MKRkICK, LONG ISLAND.
bequeath unto my eldest son, Jonathan Smith, ye sum
of five shilHngs New York money, and also my Large
Bible, to him and his heirs and assigns forever. Item,
1 will, give and bequeath unto my beloved wife, Eliza-
beth Smith, and to her heirs and assigns forever, my
Riding mare that I have, as also all and Singular my
movable or personal estate of what Nature or condition
Soever (except what I shall dispose of hereafter) that
is to say, ye use and benefit thereof after the same is sold
by my executors at public Vendue. Item, I will, give and
Bequeath to my sd well beloved wife ye use and benefit
of my East Room in the House where I now Live with
ye Appurtenances, and the one third part of ye use ot
my farme of Lands, &c.. During her Widowhood. Item,
I will, give and bequeathe unto my Daughter, Phelina
Smith, her heirs and Assigns, one fether Bed with full
furniture thereunto belonging, as also thirty pounds of
Lawfull money of New York, to be paid unto her In
some convenant time after my decease, by my executors
out of my movable estate. Item, I will, and bequeath
unto my three Daughters that are married, viz.: Eliza-
beth, the wife of Ezekiel Matthews; Jane Haviland, the
wife of Benjamin Haviland, and Hannah Bedle, to each
of them one cow and calf, and to each of their heirs and
assigns forever. Item, I will, give and bequeath unto
my daughter Philena her Riding side Sadie and her duch
Spinning Wheal to her own disposall. Item, I will and
beciueath unto my son, John Smith, and to his heirs and
THE WILL OF JONATHAN SMITH. 37
assigns my Stalion, a cow calf and a g;un which he now
has in keeping. Item, I will, and bequeath unto my son
Henry Smith, his heirs and assigns, two four year old
Stears and a Gun. Item, I will, and Bequeath unto my
son Cornell, his heirs and assigns my new Gun, a pair
of four year old Stears and a gray mare which are to be
sold at Public Vendue (with ye rest of ye moveables)
and ye money arising therefrom, to be paid unto him
when he shall arrive of full age. *****
In witness hereunto I have set to my hand and Fixed
my seal ye day and year above said.
Jonathan A Smith.
mark and seal.
The house containing ye east room, given to his wife
is still standing in rear of the present residence of Mrs.
Elijah Smith, and to this lady the writer is indebted for
a copy of the above will and many other valuable docu-
The old Merrick Path beginning near the present
Hempstead turnpike and passing east of the house of
Mr. Benjamin Seaman, in a northely direction to the
plains, probably first did duty as a road in this part of
the new township. It is said that one with sharp eyes
can still discern its outlines. It was simply "brushed out,"
and indicated more distinctly by "blazed trees." This
path, later on was known as the "Hempstead Road" and
then, as the turnpike.
The Merrick Road, or as sometimes designated the
great south road, came next in order. It was built in
sections, not continuously; and not until about 1850
was it completed between Merrick and Freeport. Before
that time its local terminus in Merrick was west of Mer-
rick river, where a connection was made with the south-
erly Freeport road, southwest to the old mills and again
in a northerly direction into Freeport village.
At about this time (1850) a company was organized
for the construction of the South Oyster Bay Turnpike
including the Merrick Road from Babylon to the old
Hempstead Turnpike in Merrick, and thence north to
Hempstead Plains. The work seems to have been ac-
complished with but little delay and resulted in pretty
general satisfaction to all but stockholders. The original
road in Merrick ran within twenty feet of the front door
of Mr. John J. Hewlett's house, now occupied by his son
Mr. William E. Hewlett. When the Commissioners
reached that point, in laying out the new turnpike, to
obviate an unnatural curve, the course was laid further
south, as the road now runs. To this the senior Hewlett
strenuously objected, urging as a sufficient reason there-
for, that it would "cut him off" and leave his house too
far away from the travelled thoroughfare. A still more
potential argument on his part was a refusal to take ad-
ditional stock in the company if the change was insist-
ed upon. This might have brought the company to
terms, had there not been — unfortunately for Mr. Hew-
lett— another householder further west who insisted with
equal pertinacity, that the southerly course should be
confirmed, in order that he might thus secure a "larger
door yard," and agreeing in consideration therefor, to
take and pay for more stock than would otherwise be
purchased by Mr. Hewlett. Such diplomacy was irresist-
ible and the road was changed accordingly.
There were regular lines of stages on the new turnpike
from Babylon to Hempstead — thence to Jamaica and
Brooklyn. South Oyster Bay had a postoffice, and one
was soon after established for Merrick in the old hotel
and store combined on the Hempstead Turnpike north
of the present railroad crossing. The building was de-
40 MERRICK, LONG ISLAND.
stroyed by fire in 1896. The Merrick postofifice was a
general point for distribution, and the nearest station for
people residing in Freeport.
To the west of Mr. Cammann's present residence, and
extending from the road in a northerly direction was a
high board fence erected to screen from view objection-
able farm buildings further on. In course of time, how-
ever, the southerly boards of this fence were cut off at a
reasonable height so that stages might the more easily
bie seen from the house as they passed to and fro upon
the Merrick Road.
The Plank Road to Jamaica was built about 1854. It
commenced at the junction of Hempstead Turnpike with
the Merrick Road and extended over the latter in a
westerly course, bridging Freeport swamps, and furnish-
ing a direct thoroughfare between that village and Mer-
rick. The new road was not a profitable investment and
was soon acquired by the town.
Merrick avenue, extending from the Bay north to the
railroad and thence to and beyond the camp grounds, is
perhaps as fine a road with its surroundings as can be
found on Long Island. It is, the greater part, beautifully
shaded, and has a macadam foundation. Previous to
1850, however, it was but a cow path, more particularly
designated as "Whale Neck Road," from the stranding of
a whale at Whale Neck Point; which whale was later sub-
divided and transferred in carts over the cow path to set-
tlements further north. A pair of bars then closed Mer-
rick avenue to the public at its junction with the Merrick
Road. The necessity for making the path a highway
soon became apparent, and it was accordingly set apart
for that purpose and reconstructed. Freight from the
Merrick dock, at the foot of this avenue, before the days
of a railroad, was then received from vessels and con-
veyed in wagons to all parts of the surrounding country.
Indeed, at this period, nearly all freight to and from
Hempstead and New York was so transferred. The good
ship "Native of America," commanded by Capt. Thomas
Raynor, made regular trips between the two ports.
Within the last ten years the older roads have been
Kirkwood avenue from the Hempstead Turnpike
near the residence of Mr. Benjamin Seaman, east to
Merrick avenue, and south of the Merrick Library.
Lindemere avenue, from the southerly end, and
around the east side, of the south lake to Merrick road ;
thence northerly, bordering the handsome grounds and
residence of Mr. P. R. Jennings, to a junction with Kirk-
Wynsum avenue, from the Merrick Road, west of
Miss Barnum's, north to the railroad station.
Willomere avenue, from Merrick road around the
westerly side of the south lake, to its southerly end.
Bordering these avenues about the lake are some of the
most desirable building lots still attainable. It is pre-
dicted that in the near future they will become the center
of handsome residences.
42 MERRICK, LONG ISLAND.
To go back to an earlier date, we find what might now
be called private roads, but laid out by Commissioners,
and entered in the town records. The following is a copy
of one of these entries:
"Articles of agreement made by the owners of a cer-
tain tract of Meadow Lands Lying in the Township of
Hempstead on Little Merrick is as follows: Whereas, we
the subscribers whose names are hereunto Written, Do
agree for Ourselves, our heirs and assigns forever that we
will take a Road that the Commissioners Shall Lay out.
One Rod Wide In Leu of all other Rights or Priviledge
that we Heretofore have had, to Pass to and From our
Meadow, For the Use of Carting the Hay Cut on our
Respective Meadows, Said Road to Begin at Duryea's
Bars, Running as the Path Now Runs to the Bars Near
Jacob Smith's and Timothy Titus' House, and from
thence To the Island as the Cross Way Now Is. One
Rod Wide Eastwardly from the Ditch on the West Side
of Said Crossway. The Priviledges above written are no
Other ithan the Priviledges we had In the Old Road
which we have given for the New One. In witness
Whereof We set our Hands, Nov. 9, 1809."
Remarkably good roads are found in Merrick and in
no part of the Island are there more delightful drives or
The Merrick Road, extending from Brooklyn to the
extreme eastern towns, is macadamized a good part of
the way, with hardly an elevation above the general level
during the first sixty miles of its course. Merrick ave-
nue, with its prolongation, Whale Neck Road, is paved in
like manner and so also is the greater part of the old
Hempstead Turnpike. Intersecting roads usually with
hard and substantial beds extend in all directions. One
may drive or ride towards any point of the compass, a
longer or shorter distance, and return to the starting
point without going a second time over the same ground.
Agriculture naturally occupied the early attention of
our colonists and has remained a principal occupation.
Records show enormous crops gathered from productive
soil, good prices in return for the same, and a gradual in-
crease in the comforts and surroundings of the farmer.
Nevertheless, we find him complaining of exorbitant
taxes, illegal assessments, and protesting to the Colonial
Governor his inability to pay them. It is on record that
this contention came to naught, but once resulted in an
edict from Governor Lovelace to "lay such taxes upon
them in future as may not give them liberty to entertain
any other thoughts but how they shall discharge them."
This was in 1668.
The Merrick River was then a stream of some import-
ance and for years a source of great value within the
hamlet. Upon its banks were no less than four paper
mills. The first, about a quarter of a mile north of the
present railroad track was owned by Gilson WilHs; Joseph
Smart had another, still further north; the next belonged
to Isaac Willis, and the last to F. S. Molineaux, but is
now transformed into a grist mill. They all did a thriving
business for years and furnished a good market for all
straw, farmers could bring to them. Rags came from
New York and were returned in the form of white paper,
by a regular line of packets, having a dock below the pres-
ent residence of Mr. Gilbert Smith. There was every evi-
dence oi a long continued prosperity in this branch of
manufacture, when that which has proved so destructive
to the Eastern End of Long Island — the "Brooklyn
Water Works Company" — by authority from the legis-
lature, reached out into the township, like the octopus
sucking through its tentacles, water from streams and
springs, to its reservoirs and conduits, until the streams
ran dry, the mills were closed, and so the industry came
to an end. The several fulling mills which had long done
a thriving business were also obliged to close for the
"Flotsam" and "Jetsam" were terms well known and
understood. A copy of one recorded document bearing
upon goods of this nature appears of sufBcient interest to
warrant its repetition:
'Tn March, 1814, the Privateer Mars ware Drove on
Shore near the New Inlet, by the British Cruisers, and
set on fire by them. We, the Subscribers, saved Sum
property from her. Jacob S. Jackson and Thomas
Treadwell made an agreement with the ajent and part
owner, Peter H. Schenck tcj Save the property from her
to the Halves and Deliver said property when saved to
New York to said Schenck and to have the one haff of
the neate proceeds for saving the same. And the above
46 MERRICK, LONG ISLAND.
said property or part of it Whare Delivered to Mr.
Schenck at New York by James Bedell, which said
Schenck refused to make a settlement for. Now we the
subscribers do agree that the sum of money that ware
lodged in the hands of Patrick Mott should go towards
bringing a sute against Mr. Schenck, and if not a suffi-
cient sum to carry on the sute, we the Subscribers agree
to pay all charges that may a Crew in carrying on said
"February the 14th, 1816."
As a means for promoting industries, building
churches, establishing schools and divers other public
works, the lottery was frequently resorted to and was
pretty generally in vogue. In 1763 the Reverend Samuel
Seabury recorded in his diary : "The ticket No. 5866 in
the Light House, drew in my favor, by the blessing of
God, £500, for which I now record to my posterity my
thanks, and praise to Almighty God, the Giver of all
good gifts. Amen."
"There is abundant evidence," says Prime, "that the
first settlers of all these towns, from East to West, con-
sidered the establishment of schools as second in import-
ance to nothing but the institutions of the gospel, and
many of them were as careful to bring their school
masters as their ministers with them." Flint records
that schools must have been opened immediately after
the colonists settled in Hempstead. As early as 1671,
we find an order, signed by Governor Lovelace, to the
overseers of Hempstead commanding them to "cause
speedy payment to be made to Richard Charlton, who
kept a school; otherwise he will have good remedy
against you at Law." In 172 1 there was a school on Cow
Neck, taught by George Sheresby.
The first school house in Merrick was built early in
the last century. It was of rough boards and timbers
hewn from logs — from its size evidently not intended for
a large number of pupils. The remnants of this building
may still be seen in rear of Mr. WilHam E. Hewlett's res-
idence, where until fallen into decay they did duty for
many years as a chicken house. The old boards and logs
bear indications that the boys then, as well as now, had
48 MERRICK, LONG ISLAND.
jack knives and knew how to use them; they record, cut
deep in the wood, initials of many a girl and boy, long
since passed away and of whom there is probably no
other memorial extant.
The second school house, on the Merrick Road, east
of Mr. Hewlett's, was erected in 1844, and used until
the modern building further east was completed in 1892.
In this second edifice many of the present residents of
Merrick received their education; and for years this
school produced the best scholars and gave the most
thorough instruction of any on Long Island. The early
teacher lived on the premises, sleeping over the school
room, and cooking his frugal meals upon the rough
apology for a box stove. It is said of one, that his chief
nutriment was derived from buckwheat cakes in their
season, and other kinds of cakes during the rest of the
year. An "old boy" remembers that this teacher was
famous for his skill in cooking; "and when the process
was about to commence the scholars gathered around to
watch him flop the cakes on top of the hot iron."
The present school building is modern throughout; the
school itself is under the supervision of a competent
board of education and the instruction of youth is care-
fully provided for.
"In Merrick," writes Thompson, "the Methodists have
a meeting house erected in 1830, and another east in
1840." This first meeting house referred to has been
identified as one which stood near Hempstead Turnpike
in Freeport about one mile north of the Merrick Road;
it was formerly known as the Sand Hill Church. The
grave yard with its head stones is yet to be seen in the
still kept inclosure where the building formerly stood.
The edifice east, to which Thompson refers, was prob-
ably the Merrick school house, where services were oc-
casionally held and a regular Sunday school maintained.
The early settlers were largely of the Congregational
and Presbyterian denominations. Partaking of Puritan
teaching they had "a very strict regard for the Sabbath"
and observed its hours with what they called "rigid sanc-
tity." The town of Hempstead, in which of course Mer-
rick was represented, voted in 1650: "If any person
neglect to attend public worship without a reasonable
excuse he shall pay five guilders for the first ofifence, 10
for the second and 20 for the third, and for after ofifence,
liable to increased fine or corporal punishment or banish-
50 MERRICK, LONG ISLAND.
Incidentally may be noticed a custom in Church of
England parishes of burying the dead beneath the church
edifice and round about its walls, — the clergy under the
chancel, pewholders beneath the pews they occupied in
life and the poor outside. A Long Island epitaph of the
period reads as follows:
"Here I lie, outside the Church door,
Here I lie, because I am poor;
The further in, the more they pay,
But here I lie, as snug as they."
The first building erected within Merrick precincts for
religious services, was undoubtedly the Union Chapel,
commenced in the fall of 1875, completed in the summer
of 1876, and dedicated Sunday, August 27th of that year,
by Methodist Elder Graves. Mr. Raynor P. Seaman,
who has done so much good work on Long Island, was
the builder and he wrought well, as he always does, in the
task then entrusted to his supervision. The chapel, as
its name indicated, was for all Protestant denominations,
but for no one of them in particular. It stood, where it
now stands in an altered shape, on the west side of Mer-
rick avenue, midway between the depot and the Merrick
road. Mr. Charles Fox, president of the old south side
railroad, and Mr. William E. Hewlett were largely inter-
ested in its erection and contributed liberally thereto. Mr.
Joseph Carman gave the land. Services were held for
several years with considerable regularity, but there was
never a settled minister, his place being supplied by
students from the Seminaries, engaged for each Sunday
at the rate of seven dollars and fifty cents and expenses.
Large congregations resulted for a time, but gradually
interest in the services declined. It became difficult to
make the necessary payments and reimburse the young
theologians. Efforts were made to transfer the property
to other denominations in the nearby villages, but with-
out success, and it was finally sold at foreclosure.
Steps were then taken for the formation of a church
mission under Episcopal jurisdiction and for repurchas-
ing the Union Chapel property, which was speedily ac-
A list of those who contributed to this purpose and the
amounts given were as follows:
George T. Hewlett $25.00 Arthur Welwood. . $20.00
Cornelia Van Wyck 15.00 Mrs. Hugh V. Rod-
Wm. G. Low 100.00 dy 5.00
John A. King 100.00 George Hewlett .. 10.00
Augustus J. Hew- George M. Hew-
lett 80.00 lett 10.00
Whitehead H. Hew- J. T. Hewlett 15.00
lett 250.00 B. H. Seaman 1500
Charity T. Seaman. 50.00 Trinity Church,
Mary Willets 25.00 Rockaway 69.48
Eliza Searing 25.00 Trinity Ch. S. S.,
Charles Hewlett. . . 15.00 Rockaway 70.00
John L Lott 25.00 F. B. Baldwin .... 10.00
52 MERRICK, LONG ISLAND.
George W. Bergen $25.00 Charlotte L. Hew-
Joseph S. Wright.. 10.00 lett $150.00
Rhoda Wright 5.00 Charlotte L. Hew-
Birasall Post 5.00 lett 50.00
Rev. John C. Hew- Mrs. William H.
lett 25.00 Hewlett 50.00
Peter T. Hewlett. . 10.00 Frankie M. Hew-
Robert A. Davison. 10.00 lett 38.20
Carman Cornelius. 25.00 Mrs. William E.
Alfred S. Smith . . . 20.00 Hewlett 5.00
Joseph H. Willetts. 10.00 Mrs. J. I. Lott ... 50
Carman & Foreman 25.00 Frank M. Munn. . 17.00
Francis Miller .... 5.00 Mrs. Charles Mor-
Charles V. Combs. 25.00 gan 50.00
E. B. Sexton 20.00 Thomas H. Clowes 5.00
In addition to the above there were the following gifts:
Mrs. Whitehead H. Hewlett, organ.
Mrs. D. R. Wright of New Haven, Communion
Charlotte L. Hewlett, Bible, Prayer Book, Book of
Altar Service, Hymnals, Book Marks and half a dozen
Prayer Books for pews.
Julia H. Hewlett, Lectern hangings, one dozen Prayer
Books, one half dozen Hymnals.
Trinity Church, Rockaway, Altar.
Prayer Book Society by Mrs. George H. Sexton, fifty
Prayer Books, fifty Hymnals.
Frankie M. Hewlett, three Hymnals, with notes.
To furnish a bell, $176.58.
The total cost of church and furniture was:
Church building and lot $1,000.00
Carpet 22 1 .56
Chancel furniture 70.00
Repairing, etc 37-31
The Reverend L. S. Russell was in charge of the Mis-
sion from December, 1882, until October, 1885. He was
succeeded in turn by the Reverend J. A. Locke, the Rev-
erend W. A. Brewer, the Reverend C. A. Jessup, the
Rev. W. W. Love, and the Reverend C. F. Olmstead. Of
all these, Mr. Brewer was longest in charge and left with
his people the kindest recollections.
The church edifice was consecrated by the Right Rev-
erend Bishop Littlejohn, July 26, 1887, and its title vested
in the Trustees of the Diocese.
In 1887 a fund was started for building a rectory; a fair
was held for the benefit of this fund and $200 realized
therefrom. Plans were obtained, the work was com-
menced, and the rectory speedily finished. It is one of
the few good houses of its character in the diocese.
April nth, 1890, the church and parish were incorpo-
rated under the name of "The Church of the Redeemer."
54 MERRICK, LONG ISLAND.
The first officers were: Rector, Rev. Wm. M. Dow-
ney; Wardens, Bezaleel Sexton, Herman H. Cammann;
Vestrymen, Benjamin Seaman, George Hewlett, William
Hewlett, Theodoret Bartow, Theodore Arms, Frank
Miller, P. Gildersleeve, Hugh V. Roddy.
The death of Mr. Sexton, senior warden, in 1891, was
a great loss to the parish. The people among whom he
lived have caused to be placed in the chancel of the
church a memorial window to commemorate his good
deeds and hold in loving memory the name of their first
Ground was given (1891) by Mr. Cammann upon
which to erect a parish house. Authority to build was
obtained from the vestry and in April of the following
year, the new building was opened and has since been
in constant use.
Changes in the church edifice of a pronounced char-
acter have several times been made, and repeated as cir-
cumstances required, until now, this corporation, with
church, rectory and parish house has as complete a
property as exists elsewhere on Long Island.
The Rev. Mr. Downey resigned in the spring of 1892.
He was succeeded by the Rev. W. A. Crawford Frost, who
came in the fall and remained until May, 1896, when he in
turn was succeeded by the present incumbent, the Rev. J.
W. Barker, D.D.
The present vestry is composed as follows: Wardens,
H. H. Cammann, P. R. Jennings; Vestrymen, Benjamin
H. Seaman, William E. Hewlett, Frank S. Miller, Arthur
Welwood, Charles N. Kent, Charles A. VVelwood, Rich-
ard P. Kent, E. C. Cammann.
It may be of interest to the reader to know that the
first Episcopal Church building on the Island was erect-
ed in 1734 at Setauket, and called first, Christ Church,
afterwards Caroline Church, because of gifts received
from Queen Caroline. It still stands upon the original
site in a goodly state of preservation and has for its rec-
tor a man of much antiquarian research, the Rev. Dan
Marvin. In olden times the preacher could look from his
pulpit through a window, upon the nearby rectory and
its adjacent garden. "One hot July afternoon," says an
old Chronicle, "the church was full of British officers.
Mr. Lyons was preaching, but in the midst of his sermon
he chanced to look out of this window, and saw a sight
which caused him to interpolate the following unpremed-
itated remarks, addressed to the officers: 'Here am I
preaching the blessed Gospel to you, and there are your
redcoats, in my garden, stealing my potatoes.' "
The Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad was incorporated
April 15th, 1832, and the first cars on Long Island ran
over this road April i8th, 1836. It was extended by the
Long Island Railroad Company, to Hicksville, in 1837,
and on the 25th of July, 1844, a through train ran from
Brooklyn to Greenport for the first time.
The South Side Railroad was built in 1866. Mr.
Charles Fox, then a resident of Merrick, became its pres-
ident. The first train from Jamaica through Merrick to
Babylon went over this road October 17th, 1867. Great
things were anticipated in a local way because of the
place being then a railroad town; but no depot, and not
so much as a waiting room of any kind whatsoever could
be secured — the people were told the road could not af-
ford it. A freight car was asked, as a means for tempor-
ary refuge, but not even that was granted — there was no
spare car to be had. Finally under the leadership of Mr.
William E. Hewlett, people got together on Christmas
day (1867) and, before night, built, at their own expense,
the first depot. It was not a grand afifair, being only
twelve feet by six and open at the front, with a shed roof,
but it appeared to give satisfaction and was used for some
THE RAILROAD. 57
time. An oil painting of this building is owned by Mr.
Now, in 1900, there are thirteen daily trains between
Merrick, New York and Brooklyn, and the time required
to City Hall, Manhattan, is one hour and fifteen minutes.
This will doubtless be decreased still further, as time goes
THE MERRICK WATER COMPANY.
Until within a comparatively few years the exhaustless
supply of pure water on Long Island was proverbial. We
have already seen of what use and value it became in the
Merrick River, and this was but a single instance among
many that might be cited of the thrift and prosperity ex-
isting along the banks of numerous other water courses.
■Says Prime: "In traveling on the South Side of the
Island from Gravesend to Canoe Place, you necessarily
cross one of these streams almost every mile 'till you
have counted some sixty or seventy on your journey." It
was only necessary to drive a pipe from three to six feet
into the ground and attach thereto a pump, in order to
secure a bountiful supply of the best and purest water
anywhere obtainable. Windmills were called into requi-
sition and the landscape was dotted with them in every
direction. But, most unfortunately for the interests of the
people, the Brooklyn Water Company was permitted to
enter this garden spot of the State and withdraw, through
its reservoirs and pumping stations, not only the surplus,
but even the ordinary supply derived from surface and
subterranean streams and springs. A more disastrous
and far reaching catastrophy to the rights of citizens and
THE MERRICK WATER COMPANY. 59
productiveness of soil was never recorded. Streams
dried up; water wheels became idle, for there was no
longer power to turn them; mills fell into decay and vege-
tation sufifered. This condition still exists in a lesser de-
gree at the present day, but it is only a question of time
when eviction of the Brooklyn company will follow; and
even now, from the numerous suits and injunctions
entered, it is more amenable to the rights of the people,
and guards against the useless waste which at one time
characterized its action.
The Merrick Water Company was incorporated June
8th, 1895. The object stated was to furnish pure water
in abundant quantities, distributed through pipes under
ground to citizens desirous of obtaining it and making
application therefor. A site was selected, just north of
Kirkwood and west of the Church property on Merrick
Avenue. Numerous pipe wells were driven a distance of
38 feet; a windmill of large capacity was erected, 85 feet
from the ground, and a tank, holding 16,000 gallons
placed upon its tower, 40 feet high. Pipes were laid in
the various avenues, and the supply of pure water thus
furnished has been sufScient and never failing. The en-
tire village can thus be furnished, and arrangements have
been made, so that whenever necessary the present mo-
tive power of the company can be supplemented by
steam or other agent.
But hardly had the Merrick company completed its
plant, ere the Brooklyn concern began to lay pipes, sink
6o MERRICK, LONG ISLAND.
wells and erect a pumping station within limits from
which the Merrick company by previous right and oc-
cupancy derived its own supply — the one corporation, be-
cause of its power and magnitude, apparently going
behind both Statute and Common law, usurping rights
held existant by the Courts, and paying little or no atten-
tion to those of the smaller and local company. But, as
already predicted, it is believed these encroachments are
short lived and will be followed by a not far distant ex-
termination of the very objectionable neighbor — so
unneighborly in its present contentions.
THE MERRICK LIBRARY.
We find record of Parish and Sunday School Libraries
with limited resources, for a score or more of years; and
still earlier there may have been a small collection of
books in the public school. But no attempt worthy of no-
tice in this direction was made until the spring of 1891,
when the proprietors of the Messenger, a monthly parish
newspaper, founded "The Merrick Free Circulating Li-
brary." It first saw light in the hay loft of a vacant stable
and boasted fully fifty volumes upon improvised shelves.
During the first summer, its patrons numbered from
twelve to fifteen weekly. In the fall of that year the li-
brary was removed to a building altered for the purpose
on Merrick Avenue, and the change resulted in an in-
crease of volumes and readers. Again, in 1892, another
removal became necessary and in this last resting place
it remained until the fall of 1895, when new quarters were
established in the Tank Tower of the Merrick Water
April 2 1 St, 1897, the present Merrick Library was in-
corporated. In anticipation of this a building had already
been commenced, made possible by generous donations,
and the work was speedily pushed to completion.
62 MERRICK, LONG ISLAND.
The new building is on the northeast corner of Kirk-
wood and Merrick Avenues, occupying a delightful site,
beneath the shade of beautiful trees, and with a well kept
lawn in front. It is perfect in construction and appoint-
ments and justly merits, as it has received, the approval
and patronage of a community residing even far beyond
the limits of Merrick. Upon its shelves there are now
over twelve hundred volumes, and the number is con-
stantly increasing. Taken as a whole, the collection is
superior to that of the average village library, and the
true book lover will here find an occasional work not
elsewhere easily discovered, which would merit special
attention in the valuable collections of Manhattan and
Books are loaned to any person, applying for them,
who is known to the librarian or introduced by a mem-
ber, and the library is open at convenient hours for the
delivery of books and use as a reading room. It is fur-
nished with small tables, stationery and other conveni-
ences for patrons.
There is always to be had a complete file of the leading
magazines, illustrated weekly newspapers, reviews and
religious periodicals. Maps — modern and ancient — adorn
the walls, while for those desiring to consult books of
reference, which may not be taken from the building,
every facility is afforded.
Any person who pays $2 annually becomes therebv a
member of the association when elected by the Board of
THE MERRICK LIBRARY. 63
Trustees. The payment of $25 at one time constitutes
In connection with the Library is a museum of Long
Island reUcs and curiosities which promises to be of very
considerable interest and value.
The oi^cers at present are: President, Edward C.
Cammann; Vice President and Treasurer, Richard P.
Kent; Secretary, E. B. Willetts, Jr. ; Librarian, Miss Lina
Miller; Trustees, H. H. Cammann, Chas. N. Kent, P. R.
Jennings, E. C. Cammann, Richard P. Kent, Wm. E.
Hewlett, J. W. Birch, E. B. Willetts, Jr., Charles N.
CAMP MEETING GROUNDS.
The Long Island Camp Meeting Association, after ex-
perimenting in various places, during the previous five
years, reorganizing in 1869, in Merrick, selecting the
grounds they have since occupied, for their first meeting,
and "agreeing to purchase for permanent use if found
suitable." The first convocation approved the purchase
■which was accordingly made at the close of the first as-
sembly. The grounds are situated less than a mile north
from the depot, east of Merrick avenue, or, as it is there
called. Whale Neck Road. They embrace nearly sixty
acres and the first cost including avenues, grading, water
supply and necessary buildings was $26,000.
At present (1900) there are nearly sixty houses within
the enclosure, most of which are occupied during the
summer months, when the average population is about
three hundred. During regular camp meeting sessions
this number is largely increased. "We have known," said
the Superintendent, "as many as ten thousand here at
one time; but, then," he added, "that was before the days
of Coney Island and Long Beach!" Cottages one story
high rent during the season for $30 and those two stories
high bring from $50 upwards.
CAMP MEETING GROUNDS. 65
The association was early incorporated, and granted a
special act by the Legislature under which it is authorized
CO purchase and hold real estate to the extent in value of
two hundred thousand dollars, and to possess an income
of not exceeding thirty thousand dollars. One hundred
acres of land, with the property thereon, is made exempt
from taxation. The trustees are authorized to issue scrip,
payable, as the interests of the association will permit, to
the amount of seventy thousand dollars. All surplus
monies are to be applied to the loan fund of the M. E.
Church Extension Society.
The present Secretary and Superintendent is Mr. J. E.
Lucky, of Brooklyn.
In some particulars — those of the most important — the
Merrick of to-day is not unhke the Merrick of 1643.
Natural causes have but served to augment its attrac-
tions and the especial purity of its atmosphere remains
uncontaminated and unchanged. There is something re-
markable in this last feature, which from a scientific
standpoint has never been satisfactorily accounted for.
Within Merrick's boundaries, and for a short distance
east and west, breezes from off old Ocean in crossing the
Great Bay undergo a radical change whereby the harsh
and salty elements in the air disappear, leaving it remark-
ably soothing and invigorating to a degree found only in
this particular locality.
It is certain that the land from the Bay northward has
been "making in" during a long period of years — possibly
since or even before the settlement of our first Rock
Smith and his associates. Opposite Merrick docks, exca-
vations, at a depth of nearly four feet, discover remains of
a curduroy road, used, as is remembered by old set-
tlers, for the wagons and ox carts in which all freight ar-
riving by boat from New York was transported to Hemp-
stead and other villages by way of Whale Neck Road.
During the summer of 1899 a large bathing pool with
bath houses adjoining was constructed, west of Merrick
Canal, south of the boat house. In the course of excava-
tion, beach sand was reached at an even depth of nearly
four feet, and, upon the sand, Indian "pot sticks," four in
number — sound and strong as if but recently cut from
trees — were upturned; nearby as if to shade those who
watched the kettle boil, suspended from the pot sticks,
stood the stump of what had been once a large maple
tree — larger indeed than is now often met with. The
stump, at its top was at least two feet belovi' the present
But while the land has thus been making in, the south-
erly beaches, under prevailing winds and tides, undergo
constant changes in both directions. Said one, familiar
from observation: "The sand on this beach is a chang-
ing all the time. Hollers now'll be hills by'me by. The
wind'll scoop out a hold and pile up a hill in no time. It
handles sand about the same way it drifts snow."
It is claimed by some well informed people, that at a
period it is not now possible to designate there was no
great South Bay — waves direct from the Atlantic, with
no intervening sand bar rolled in upon Merrick marshes
and Merrick's southern shore was then the true ocean
beach. The sand formation now dividing bay from ocean,
we are told, is of more recent origin — an aggregation of
shifting sands, accumulated by constant motion of wind
68 MERRICK, LONG ISLAND.
There may also be noted, in passing, the existence of a
strong belief, frequently found in old documents, that the
whole of Long Island was at one time a part of the main
land — connected therewith from east to west, — a sepa-
ration having been wrought by volcanic upheavals.
The writer's personal attachment to Merrick; his
strong appreciation of its many advantages for suburban
homes, and the friendships which have there been formed
and augmented, resulted in a desire to know more of its
history — and hence, during otherwise leisure hours these
pages have been written.
The future of Merrick may be predicted with a moder-
ate degree of accuracy. Its comparatively slow growth
in the past is due to natural causes which will ultimately
show advantageous results. Speculation in lands, the
bane of so many suburban towns, has here never been at-
tempted. ''Corner lots at a bargain," "Country homes at
a great sacrifice," and other like announcements never
appear in connection with our real estate. With its broad
avenues and cultivated acres, its attractive residences and
beautiful lawns, the remaining land is largely held by
those who can so afiford to keep it, until such time as a
transfer is effected — not in lots measured in square feet,
but in acres — to would-be residents of some means and
reputation, who will join with those already here happily
domiciled, in making Merrick an aggregation of homes
of the better class, free from the petty annoyances of an
ordinary country village.
Copy of the original commission issued to Jonathan
Smith (Rock) Merrick:
Benjamin Fletcher, Capt Gen'll and Governor in Chiefe
of his Maj'ties Province of New Yorke, and all the Territ-
tories and Tracts of Land depending thereon in America,
& Vice Admirall of the Same; his Majties Leut. and Com-
mander in Chiefe of the Militia and of all the forces by
Sea and Land within his Ma j 'ties Collony of Connecticutt,
and of all the Forts and places of strength within the
By Virtue of the power and Authority to me given by
his Maj'tie under his great Seal of England, I doe hereby
constitute and appoint you, Jonathan Smith, to be Quar-
termaster of the Troope of Millitia Horse Whereof
Daniel Whitehead is Captaine. You are therefore carefully
and and dilligently to discharge the duty of Quartermaster
to the said Troope by doeing and performing all and all
manner of things thereunto bellonging, and you are to ob-
serve and follow Such Orders and Directions as you shall
from time to time receive from me or any other your
Superior officer or officers, according to the rules and
discipline of Warr, in pursuance to the trust hereby Re-
74 MERRICK, LONG ISLAND.
posed in you, and for soe doing this shall be your suffi-
cient Warrant and Commission. Given under my hand
and Seal att Arms Att fort William Henry in New
Yorke on the ninth day of Jully in the ninth year of his
majesties Reigti, Anno Domino 1697.
By his Excellencies Command.
Note. — The original of this commission is in the pos-
session of Mrs. Elijah Smith, Merrick. She also has a
similar commission issued to the same officer, but signed
by "George Clinton, "Admiral of the White Squadron of
her Majesties fleet."
Extract from Philip Hone's diary :
January 14, i8j^.
"The rage for speculating in lands on Long Island is
one of the bubbles of the day. Men in moderate circum-
stances have become immensely rich merely by the good
fortune of owning farms of a few acres of this chosen
land. Abraham Schermerhorn has sold his farm of 170
acres at Gowanus, three miles from Brooklyn, at $600
per acre. Four years ago, having got out of conceit of it
as a residence, he offered it for sale at $20,000, and would
have taken $18,000. To-day he pockets $102,000 and re-
grets that he sold it so cheap !"
Air, pure 66
Arms, Theodore 54
Baldwin, F. B 51
Barker, Rev. J. W., D.D... . 54
Barnum, Miss 24, 41
Bartow, Theodoret 54
Bergen, Geo. W 52
Birch, J. W 63
Brewer, Rev. W. A 53
Brooklyn Water Works,
45, 58, 59
Cammann, E. C 55, 63
Cammann, H. H., 27, 40, 54, 63
Camp Meeting Grounds. .40, 64
Carman, Caleb 27
Carman, John, 14, 16, 20, 27, 30
Carman family 27
Carman & Foreman 52
Caroline Church 55
Charlton, Richard 47
Che Know 19
Church, contributors to 51
Burials in . 50
Clowes, Thomas H 52
Combs, Charles V 52
Cornelius Carman 52
Davison, Robert A 52
Dickie, Captain 31
Downey, Rev. Wm. M 54
Depuy, Henry W 15
Dutch Peter 13
EUoson, Richard 33
Farret, Mr 11, 12
Floatsam and Jetsam 45
Fordham, Robert 16, 20
Fox, Charles 56
Frost, Rev. W. A. C 54
Gildersleeve, P 54
Greater Merrick 15, 34
II, 13, 14, 16, 18, 19
Hewlett, Augustus J 51
Hewlett, Benj 30
Hewlett, Benj., 2d 30
Hewlett, Charles 51
Hewlett, Charlotte L 52
Hewlett, Col 29
Hewlett, Frankie M 52, 53
24, 30, 31, 32, 51
Hewlett, George M. , 28, 29, 5 1 , 54
Hewlett, George T. . .28, 30, 51
Hewlett, John 28, 30
Hewlett, Rev. John C 52
Hewlett, John J 39
Hewlett, Joseph 30
Hewlett, Julia H 52
Hewlett, J. T 51
Hewlett, Lewis 28
Hewlett, Peter T 52
Hewlett, Whitehead H 51
Hewlett, Mrs. Whitehead H. 52
Hewlett William E.,
28, 39, 54, 55, 56, 63
Hewlett, Mrs. Wm. E 52
Hewlett, Mrs. Wm. H 52
Humphreys, Wm 31
Indians, Merrick 23
Jackson, John 31
James, John 18
January, Henry 24
January, Sarah 24
Jennings, P. R 41, 54, 63
Jessup, Rev. C. A 53
Kent, Chas. N 55, 63
Kent, Chas. N., Jr 63
Kent, Richard P 55, 63
Kieft, Gov 12, 16, 20
King, John A 51
Kirkwood Avenue 41
Lamoree, John 20
Lindemere Avenue 41
Linne Settlers 11,12
Little John, Bishop 53
Little Merrick 15, 34, 42
Locke, Rev. J. A 53
Long Island, Indian Name
Lott, John 1 51
Lott Mrs. John 1 52
Love, Rev. W. W 53
Lovelace, Gov 44. 47
Low, Wm. G 51
Lucky, J. E 65
Merrick Avenue 40
Merrick, Elvira 15
Merrick Library 61
Merrick, Mass 15
Merrick Path 38
Merrick Post Office 39
Merrick Road 38
Merrick Water Co 58
Miller, F. S 52, 54 55
Miller, Miss Lina 63
Morgan, Mrs. Charles 52
Munn, Frank M 52
Nassau, Island of 13
Neal's History of N. E 12
Nicolls, Gov 12
Ogden, John 20
Olmstead, Rev. C. F 53
Pees Komach 19
Plank Road 40
Post, Birasall 52
Raynor, Capt. Thos 41
Raynor, Joseph 32
Roddy, Hugh V 23, 54
Roddy, Mrs. Hugh V 51
Russell, Rev. L. S . . . 53
Seaman, Benj. H.,38, 41, 51, 54
Seaman, Charity T 51
Seaman, Raynor P 50
Searing, Eliza 51
Sexton, Bezal eel 54
Sexton, E. B 52
Sexton, Mrs. Geo. H 52
Sheresby, George 47
Smith, Alfred S 52
Smith, Mrs. Elijah 28, 37
Smith family names 26
Smith, Gilbert 45
Smith, John 14, 23, 33
Smith, John Rock 26, 33
Smith, Jonathan Rock 34, 35
Smith, Joseph 34
Smith, Silvanus 34
Smith, William Black 30
So. Oyster Bay Turnpike. . . 38
Squaw Betty 24
Stamford 14, 20
Sterling, Lord 11, 12, 16
Stricklan , John 20
Strong, Tom 24
Sturges, Jona 29
Tackapousha 17, 19
Titles— land i6
Trinity Church, Rockaway.. 51
Trumbull, Gov 29
Underbill, John 24
Underbill, John, Jr 24
Valentine, Richard 28
Valentine, William 34
Van Wyck, Cornelia 51
Washington, Geo 29
Welwood, Arthur 51, 55
Welwood, Chas. A 55
Whale Neck Road 40
Willetts, E. B., Jr 63
Willetts, Joseph H 52
Willetts, Mrs. Mary 30, 51
Willomere Avenue 41
Wood, Jonas 20
Wright, Mrs. D. R 52
Wright, Joseph S 52
Wright, Rhoda 52
Wynsum Avenue 41